Alton’s Joey Morrissey (right) maneuvers past defensive pressure applied by Collinsville’s Hunter Counton during Thursday’s Southwestern Conference boys soccer match at Piasa Motor Fuels Field at Alton High School.
Billy Hurst | For The Telegraph
GODFREY — Alton coach Nick Funk was quick to dispel any notion of a “Collinsville thing” among his Alton High soccer players following a 1-0 loss Thursday at Piasa Motor Fuels Field. Even though the perennially tough Kahoks always present problems, Funk said his Alton team doesn’t lock up when it faces them.
But Funk was nonetheless searching for an answer the Southwestern Conference defeat. A goal by Ruben Oritz in the 59th minute turned out to be all the Kahoks needed for victory in the regular season finale for each team.
“It’s not that we lock up against Collinsville,” Funk said. “Today, we used a new formation to try and deal with the 4-3-3 they use, which is a little different from what we usually face. But we didn’t win any 50-50 balls and didn’t win anything in the air.
“Some of our players do remember that our last two games last year were losses to Collinsville 4-0 and 4-1, but I don’t think that didn’t have an affect on how we played today.”
Alton finished the regular season 10-8-2 overall and 1-4-1 in the SWC. Collinsville is 14-7 and 5-1. The Kahoks finished second in the conference race behind Edwardsville, which finished 5-0-1, the tie a scoreless one with Alton.
Each team will turn shift its focus to the postseason. The Redbirds will play host to Granite City in a play-in game of the Edwardsville Class 3A Regional Tournament at 11 am. Saturday. The winner will move on to a semifinal matchup against top-seeded Edwardsville. Collinsville will face host Springfield Oct. 17 in a semifinal of the Springfield 3A Regional.
Thursday, Collinsville dominated much of the possession and had a 9-3 shots advantage. But the Kahoks were stonewalled time and time again by Alton goalie Hunter Dill, who made seven saves, including two of the acrobatic variety.
“Hunter had a really good game,” Funk said. “He kept us in it. When it’s close, all you need is one good counter or a mistake by the defense and you’re right back in it.”
Oritz scored from directly in front of the goal after taking a cross form right wing by Logan Whitehead. Ortiz, sliding toward Dill, poked the past the Alton goalie from about eight yards out.
The Kahoks thought they had added an insurance goal in the closing seconds of the game, but it was disallowed because of an offsides call.
Other chances by Collinsville included point-blank shots in the second half by Hunter Counton and Whitehead that were smothered by Dill. Also, Luke Lijegren shot high on a wide-open goal early in the first half.
The best chance at a goal for the Redbirds came in the 70th minute when a deflection by Jaden Singleton sailed wide right of the Kahoks goal.
“Today, we never really put anything together offensively,” Funk said. “It was there from time to time, but we didn’t connect coming out of the back.
“We need to learn from today and get ready to play again in about 36 hours.”